Sunday, November 28, 2010

Both of us cried, when I told my Bishop

Click image to see original
Steve Walker painting.
The latest blog from Invictus inspired me to write about my experience coming out to my Bishop, my former Bishop that is. He’s served his time and we now have a new young pup learning the ropes. Do puppies learn ropes? Oh the problems of mixed metaphors. Maybe I will also tell the pup someday, but right now I kind of doubt it. (The other week when he told me with a twinkle in his eye that I looked very handsome and happy, I thought for just a moment he could be a member of the fam. Wishful thinking, I guess, but that's the subject of a different post.)

The Bishop I did tell immediately treated me differently after our first of many discussions. He had always been kind, but his kindness increased. He went out of his way to ask me how I was doing. As one of his clerks, if he knew I was in the building, he would ask me to join the Bishopric for an opening or closing prayer. Many times, but not always, he would ask me to say the prayer. In so many ways he said to me, not in words, but in his actions, “I respect you. I love you as a brother and friend and as your bishop.”

I’ve read here of other experiences with Bishops that were not as positive. With 28,424 wards and branches throughout the world, there are bound to be many differing approaches of Bishops and Branch Presidents. In a worldwide religion with 13,824,854 members there are 138,245 of us personally dealing with homosexuality given a very conservative 1% “gay rate”. I would like to hear the stories of others who have had positive and not-so-positive dealings with their Bishops and other leaders.


  1. I think my visit with the bishop went well. He was matter-of-fact about it and our subsequent visits never even brought it up. =]

  2. I am glad you had such a wonderful and loving experience with your Bishop. Me, too. (My telling my Bishop I am gay was related to a whole other matter, and if you would like to hear the rest of the story, I would be glad to tell you. You do not seem to have an e-mail address? I tried looking for it the other day. I also do not list an address, but you could write me a comment on my blog- they are moderated, so your address would stay private.)

    Thank you!

    love and respect, always.

  3. Glad you had a good experience, Ned. Thanks for sharing your story.

    It's not that my bishop wasn't a good guy; he just didn't know how to deal with it, which was more a sign of the times, I think, than a reflection on him personally.

  4. Never have I felt the need to tell any bishop. Never felt that any bishop would know what to do with the information. I've been VERY close with several bishops - and they have allowed me to be ME without any restrictions or overcompensation. I can't help but wonder... if they "knew", would I be given that same freedome from restrictions or felt any need for special compensation?

  5. I have told 5 bishops/branch presidents including my dad, who actually handled it the best (really, he knew of the God Loveth His Children pamphlet and understood it the best). None of my experiences were perfect, but I would say they were all positive. All of them were honest about what they knew and were careful about giving any judgemental remarks or bad advice.

  6. My first try was a drag. I don't think the guy knew what to do and so did nothing at all. It was a disaster for me.

    Fast forward about 27 years later and I tried again. This time the Bish was wonderful, amazing, loving, and is still my friend. I've now told 2 more bishops and a Stake President with wonderful, suportive results each time. I wish everyone could have a positive experience.

  7. Dear Friends-
    I thought you might like to hear from a former bishop on this subject. I had someone come out to me in a troubled situation. I did the best I could to listen and help. With his permission, I talked to our Stake President who was a very kind and good soul. I was soon after transferred with work, released, and do not know what happened except that he and his wife separated.

    He came to me a little late as he was already slipping into some same-sex intimate activity after a significant period of time living up to church standards. He had been long aware of himself, serving a mission, coming out to his family and even future wife before Temple marriage. She willingly accepted the situation. But he was to a point where he was in violation of church standards and came to talk with me. Initially he came with his wife then I had a few more discussions just with him. He was a good friend of mine and I told him that if there was a disciplinary council that I would be willing to come for him as a "character" witness. He didn't ask me and I don't know what happened as I no longer had any reason to know after being released. There were many, many things I had to leave alone at release and while not entirely forgetting, they became clouded in my mind and I hold no bad feelings towards any of those who I knew had fallen short of church standards for many different reasons. (We all do.)

    Here's the difficult thing and the confession for my part. I had no idea of his situation being his bishop for three years. I had a person in the ward tell me that she knew of someone gay in the ward that nobody else knew about. It was an odd comment and I didn't worry about it and never connected it to him (or anyone else, for that matter). What did happen though was a spiritual prompting to me about this couple one year before the confession to me. In an interview for some totally unrelated thing, the thought came in my head that I was to ask how his sex-life was with his wife. The thought surprised and shocked me and I argued within myself that I couldn't possibly ask any such thing - although I never had any problem asking the standard worthiness questions and being fairly direct with the youth in our ward about church standards. Anyway, at the time, I fought the thought and didn't think in any way that it could have come from the Spirit. A year later after his confession to me I realized that had I asked the question, he likely would have come out to me at that point in time before he had slipped into violation of church standards. My regret is that maybe I could have helped him stay strong as he had for so many years if I had I known.

    So, I guess my point is that we humans fail rather often. The Lord doesn't. He knows and loves us all. I would hope anyone out there would seek the Lord's help as I'm sure so many of you are doing. Ask His advice whether you can talk to your bishop. I think there are some who may not handle it well but many who would and more and more all the time. If it's not your bishop, ask the Lord to direct you to your Stake President, or Quorum leader or home teacher or a friend who could help and support you. We all have our challenges and this is one of the most difficult. So my prayers and best hopes are for you all.

    A former bishop

  8. Thank you for sharing this, Bishop. Maybe I do need to talk with my new Bishop. I do miss the support I used to enjoy. And maybe I'm also missing the link to someone who actually may be able to encourage me in a way that few others could. Thanks for a thought-provoking addition to the discussion.